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Morgan's book reviews are conducted by a team of three, or more reviewers. Books reviews are be published only if the we believe the book makes a significant contribution and is not just a rehash of existing materials. New listings have a colored background.

The order of the books, below, does not constitute a rating system nor is it intended to convey any information. If we didn't think these books belonged on your bookshelf we wouldn't even mention their names.
Book reviews are ongoing books so please submit suggestions and recommendations.
Book Name / ISBN Oracle Insights Tales of the Oak Table
Author /Publisher Mogens Norgaard, Dave Ensor, Tim Gorman, Kyle Hailey, Anjo Kolk, Jonathan Lewis, Connor McDonald, Cary Millsap, James Morle, David Ruthven, Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha

The cover says: "Eleven leading authorities on Oracle's database engine share their unique insights on how best to exploit the software. We can't think of a better description of this book in which each of the eleven writers has authored a chapter. Here are some of the chapter titles as they speak for themselves.
  • You probably don't tune right
  • Compulsive tuning disorder
  • Testing and risk management
  • Design disasters
Chapter 1 by Dave Ensor alone is worth the price of admission. While this book can be read by the novice ... the more years of Oracle experience you have ... the more valuable this book will be. Enjoy!

~ Morgan
Book Name / ISBN Practical Oracle 8i / 0-201-71584-8
Author /Publisher Jonathan Lewis

Don't let the fact that this book was written for 8i discourage you. If you are one of those developers or DBAs that doesn't need a book for syntax. But rather looking for books to help you make decisions on which syntax to choose, and why, this book is essential. Jonathan's knowledge of Oracle is at the top of the trade and this book contains some of the most valuable advice available anywhere.

With Oracle 8i this book was essential, and it is good enough that it survived without revision through Oracle's 9i. We sincerely hope Jonathan will do a complete rewrite for 11g. But even without it ... get yourself a copy.

~ Morgan
Book Name / ISBN Expert one-on-one Oracle / 1-861004-82-6
Author /Publisher Tom Kyte / APress

You should not be allowed to put 'developer' and 'PL/SQL' on your resume if you haven't read this book. Tom deals with the most important aspects of working with Oracle ... rarely covered in other books that focus more on syntax than successful implementation of applications utilizing the syntax. The first three chapters are mandatory reading for anyone coming to Oracle from SQL Server, DB2, Informix, or Sybase.

This book is, without a doubt, the most referenced book on the shelf for development.

~ Morgan
Book Name / ISBN Effective Oracle By Design / 0-07-223065-7
Author /Publisher Tom Kyte / Oracle Press

As one of my former students recently remarked: "Syntax is boring." And it is. Anyone can go to the web and find the syntax to do something. Knowing what to do, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do is what separates the amateur from the professional.

If you aren't using Oracle to build single-user systems, if you have need to be concerned with performance and scalability, add this book to your reading list. One of the many things we like about this book is the emphasis on testing code for performance and scalability the demonstrations related to hard parses and soft parses, and the fact that some soft parses are softer than others.

~ Morgan
Book Name / ISBN Oracle In A Nutshell / 0-613912-17-9
Author /Publisher Rick Greenwald and David C. Kreines / O'Reilly

As an Oracle developer, I have been frustrated reading all the Oracle documentations. It's hard to locate what you want to know in those big and thick documentations. I was thrilled to find this book -- it really is a great reference and it can basically replace my collection of some other Oracle books. This book is very well-organized into different topics including architecture, data dictionary, SQL, PL/SQL, JAVA and much more. Some topics like PL/SQL and Java, (imagine they are in one book!) look more like a dictionary. You can easily look up for the syntax/commands. It gives you a few lines coding as example followed by a brief explanation --All in a concise manner.

Bottom line, this is a very comprehensive resource covering lots of topics, pretty much whatever you need is all in there, in one book!! I have been benefit a lot from having this book at my desktop for quick and easy reference.

Review by Connie Zhao on

Book Name / ISBN Oracle Security Step-by-Step / 0-9724273-4-1
Author /Publisher Pete Finnigan

If part of your job responsibility is securing databases this book should definitely be on your list. Unlike far too many treatments this book goes far beyond the simple reliance in userid and password and provides hundreds of concrete and specific ideas on where security holes can be found and how to plug them.

The books biggest weakness is the lack of an index. What you are looking for is likely here ... finding it, however, may be a bit of a challenge.

~ Morgan
Book Name / ISBN The Art and Science of Oracle Performance Tuning / 1-904347-01-0
Author /Publisher Christopher Lawson

The author has written this book from the standpoint that it will be read by DBAs: It should be read by everyone. Developers should not throw any garbage they can write over the cubicle wall and expect their DBA to sort things out after it is implemented in production. So there is a lot of material in here that will be new for developers and should not be, but likely is, new for many DBAs.

One part of this book we really appreciate is the fact that the book is giving advice oriented toward version 9i and beyond rather than rehashing old version 7 - 8i advice that, in many cases, is obsolete. Be sure not to miss the sections devoted to the new magic views such as V$PGA_TARGET_ADVICE.

The one thing this book is missing is DBMS_PROFILER. Hopefully the author will add this critical tuning tool to future editions.

~ Morgan

Book Name / ISBN Relational Database Index Design and the Optimizers / 0-471-71999-4
Author /Publisher Tapio Lahdenmaki, Mike Leach / Wiley

Before I start commenting on this book, I should point out that I have been using, running, designing, or trouble-shooting Oracle database systems for most of the last 20 years - but the authors have a background in DB2.

Having said that, the difference in RDBMS really doesn't matter. If you are responsible for making databases perform well you should read this book.

It tells you why you need to create indexes - and the answer is a little more subtle than just "to make things go faster"; it tells you how to decide on the columns to include in your indexes; it tells you how to choose the best order for those columns; and it describes the compromises you make between a reasonable set of pretty good indexes and the complete set of ideal indexes

Experienced DBAs may read this book and decide that it's not telling them anything new. Even if you fall into this group, don't use that as an excuse for putting the book to one side. The clarity of explanation, the rational justification, and the numerical approximation methods supplied by this book should give you a better insight - hence greater effectiveness - into what may at present be an intuitive approach to deciding on indexing strategies.

The book gives you useful models for working out the benefit of adding, or modifying, an index in terms of how much work you do as you walk through the index and visit the table. It gives you a simple system for classifying an index with one, two, or three stars, and then offers an insight into when you may or may not, want to create the ideal index for a query.

Specifically for the Oracle practitioner, I found a few minor details that required a slight mental adjustment: the authors tend to talk about 4Kb block sizes with relatively large index entries whereas many Oracle systems tend to use 8Kb block sizes with relatively small index entries; there were points where the experienced Oracle DBA would want to think about allowing for the background workload due to UNDO and REDO; there were details where I could see some difference between DB2 and Oracle technology; and the authors also have a section discussing when to rebuild indexes (an activity generally viewed as anathema in the Oracle world).

Given the common Oracle view about index rebuilding - and my background - I feel it is important to say that the authors' arguments are perfectly sound, and I would be quite happy to follow their guidelines; but I would only expect the argument to apply to a very small percentage of the indexes in a typical Oracle (OLTP) system. This is because there was one detail that I thought needed to be raised more explicitly - despite being implicit in a large fraction of the writing - the authors' were talking about small blocks with large index entries for indexes that have been engineered so that critical queries did most of their work IN THE INDEX, making "one more random block read" a significant fraction of the total workload.

These are minor details, though, that have no impact on the general principles; at most they move the boundary line at which you decide whether the cost of any structural change is worth the benefit offered by that change.

In summary - any DBA should read this book if they need to get better performance from a badly indexed database.

~Jonathan Lewis from

Book Name / ISBN Optimizing Oracle Performance / 0-59600-527-X
Author /Publisher Cary Millsap & Jeff Holt / O'Reilly

If you want a quick checklist of what's wrong with your Oracle systems - do not buy this book.

If you want validation of your existing tuning techniques - so not buy this book.

If you want to be told what to do without thinking - do not buy this book.

If on the other hand you are fed up with received wisdom that does not work, you recognize that performance tuning is a valuable skill for your business and you wish to learn an effective scientific and repeatable approach to improving the performance of your business systems, don't just buy this book but live it. Cary and Jeff take a rigorous, scientific approach to performance tuning that is especially suited to Oracle systems and by both formal proof and real world example show that the mystery of Oracle performance is controllable by you.

The only downside comes from explaining to your boss that the thousands you spent on automated performance tools were wasted.

A word about the Math. 2/3 of the book has no math at all in it. The remainder of the book was perfectly understandable to this reader, whose academic background is Economics and Philosophy not math or computer science. Don't be put off by the idea that the book has equations, a competent High School student can follow the relevant mathematical arguments.

~ Niall Litchfield from

Book Name / ISBN Cost Based Oracle Fundamentals / 1-59059-636-6
Author /Publisher Jonathan Lewis / APress

If there is only room for a single book on your bookshelf ... DBA or Developer ... this is it.

If you are, or expect to be a DBA, and you do not have a copy of this book on your shelf you should be taken out to the woodshed. It is that simple.

~ Morgan

Book Name / ISBN Oracle Data Guard 11g Handbook / 007-162-1113
Author /Publisher Larry Carpenter, Joseph Meeks, Charles Kim, Bill Burke, Sonya Carothers, Joydip Kundu, Michael Smith, Nitin Vengurlekar / Oracle Press

Written by Data Guard experts with years of implementation experience in addition to Oracle Data Guard Product and Development Managers, this comprehensive book approaches Data Guard from a real-life perspective, sharing industry experiences, providing comprehensive coverage on best practice configurations, day-to-day monitoring and maintenance, tips and techniques, architecture, and extensive automated scripts to enable the reader to successfully setup and manage Data Guard.

~ Morgan

Book Name / ISBN Pro Oracle Database 10g RAC on Linux: Installation, Administration, and Performance / 978-1-59059-524-4
Author /Publisher Julian Dyke and Steve Shaw / APress

Many books around Oracle's advanced topics simply parrot the manuals. Julian avoids that. Instead, he describes Real Application Cluster technology from the ground concepts up to full implementation, with practical notes and tips. He gets into topics that the manuals never touch, and much of what he writes can be useful in any RAC environment, not just Linux.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book and own both the paper and eBook version which I often reference.

~ Oracle ACE Director Hans Forbrich's review on

Book Name / ISBN Troubleshooting Oracle Performance / 978-1-59059-917-4 90000
Author /Publisher Christian Antognini / APress

Recommended by Tanel Poder as "the best Oracle performance-tuning book out there" in his Community Peer-to-Peer Interview in the January-February 2010 Oracle Magazine.

That's a good enough review for me. There will be a copy on my bookshelf in a week at the most.

~ Morgan

Book Name / ISBN Oracle PL/SQL / 978-0596514464
Author /Publisher Steven Feuerstein and Bill Pribyl / O'Reilly

This is the classic text on PL/SQL updated. It is the one I used, for many years, as one of the text books for the second quarter of the PL/SQL class I taught at the University of Washington.

The reason, simply put, is that it contains indispensable advice not available from any other source.

~ Morgan
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